The Art Of Not Settling That Goes Beyond A Bad Relationship


I’ve realized a lot about life in the last couple of months since moving my life to Boston and starting my new job. Here are a few things that I have learned; I am not by any means a morning person, Boston traffic makes me have terrible road rage, I am a caffeine addict whether I want to admit it or not, and finally with a record eight feet of snow in the Bean I have learned to parallel park and never leave my spot open to the Southie savages.

However, if we take a more serious turn down the everyday life of this recent college grad, I have learned one very valuable lesson. Never, ever, under any circumstances should you “settle.” Now that I’ve said the big no-no, let’s talk about what it actually means to settle. When most people hear the term “settle,” they normally think of never settling for a bad relationship. But this goes so much further than that, and lucky for you I’m here to enlighten you!

In my experience, the act of settling goes so far beyond your egotistical sh*tty boyfriend. You could be settling for the wrong friend, apartment, roommate, job, or even that crappy cup of coffee you keep getting every morning. It goes to every aspect of your life. Once you have realized that little piece, you’re surely on the right track to fixing whatever it is that you are stuck in.

The dictionary definition of the word “settle” is:

1. To appoint, fix, or resolve definitely or conclusively agree upon (as time, price, or conditions)
2. To pay, as a bill
3. To migrate and organize
4. To cause to take up residence

Now, at a glance many of these definitions, if not all, don’t seem to take on the negative connotation that society has seemed to give to the word “settle.” However, being the English major that I am, I cannot let the deeper meaning here slide past me.

What I see in these four definitions is the lack of choice. They are all about paying back, resolving on something, or agreeing upon it. Where is my choice?! I don’t want to conclude my morning with a crappy coffee. I want the choice to argue and get a better one. I don’t want to resolve my work issues by telling my company exactly what they want to hear. I want the choice to stand up for myself, and have my opinions be heard (in a polite manner of course, I’m not trying to get fired here).

What is the best part of all of this you may ask? We absolutely DO have a choice. The real trick is whether or not we decide to take it or not. So, I urge not only myself but everyone to take the leap of faith and stop settling. Your friends (including mine) don’t want to hear you complain about your awful desk job, your sh*tty boyfriend (who probably thinks he’s great), your boss who won’t give you the time of day, or that crappy cup of coffee.

So, let’s do something about it. If you find yourself settling, stop it. Quit now while you’ve realized you’re doing it. If you haven’t realized it, here are a few ways you might be able to tell:

1. You complain obsessively to anyone that will listen, but it’s been six months and you’re still in the same commitment. (I.E Low paying desk job with an irritable boss, boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t give you the time to day, etc.)

2. You say more negative things about yourself, significant other, job, etc. than you do positive. Aka you’re a serious “Negative Nancy”

3. Simply put, you’re not happy.

If you are ever these three things, you are absolutely one hundred and ten percent settling for whatever commitment you are in. It’s probably eating you up inside, and it has completely taken over your day to day life.

If you’re waiting for me to give you a magic answer or waive a wand to make you break your settling ways, you may as well stop reading right here. I have no answer for you. As I sit here writing this I have realized that I too am settling in my life. But do not lose hope, because I have compiled a short list of steps that may help both of us break this cycle.

1. Settling for a bad boyfriend/girlfriend or friend and you’ve realized it? Ask yourself why you’re still in the relationship. Are you gaining anything from it? Are you happy with him or her? Do have fun with him/her? Do you want to brag about them? No? Then dump them (yes, you can break up with friends too), you’ll live. You’ll even find your new happy self-emerging once you’ve made the decision to do it.

2. Settling for a downright awful job where you are not appreciated? (I AM I AM). Well, like me you may not be able to quit immediately. But, you can definitely spare an hour, get your resume sparkling again, and shoot out some e-mails! What have you really got to lose? It’ll be hard, time consuming, and tiring BUT isn’t being challenged better than settling? Just say yes, please.

So, I beg and plead for you to join me in making a plan of attack. End this rut of bad relationships, bad food, bad jobs, bad books, bad coffee, End it if not for yourself, but for your poor friends who are tired of hearing how awful your boss or boyfriend is. We can’t walk through our lives in a haze.

Broaden your horizons! Travel, experience great food, go to a new museum, try a new profession, ANYTHING that will cut the ties that hold you to your past settling self. We should be happy, challenged, and excited. Of course there are bad days even when you’re doing something that you love. But at least you’ll have a fun job, loving significant other, or a really great coffee to drown your sorrows in when that happens. Realize it, learn the art, and stop settling.